We wanted to share our news after 1yr 1/2 battling with the LEA and going through an educational tribunal we have today been told that we have been successful!
The judge has order the LEA to change Riley's statement to a home based son-rise programme and they will now have to provide 30hrs per week teaching assistant support between a minimum of 2 staff.
We wanted to share this information with other parents, as when we started on our journey with Riley we would read this message board and have a boost of energy and confidence that we could achieve the same as so many other parents.
It has been difficult at times especially as we had no money for legal fees so represented ourselves, however knowing that this was the right programme for our son has meant that we never gave up. We would not hear the words "no" that were said to us time and time again by many professionals including a specialist autism teacher! In court we sat together as parents with our son -rise manual for support, whilst the other side sat four professional experts in education and autism with their research and fancy words. Despite this we gave passion, clear explanation of son-rise, evidence that it worked for Riley, evidence that it was a cheaper option than the school they were offering, clarity of purpose and a total belief that a judge would not be able to turn us down!
Although today having received the letter in writing that confirms agreement with us as parents, I am in a happy shock!!
We have just converted our garage to a larger play room this has been funded by donations from family over the last 12 months, we have not asked for gifts for birthdays or Christmas but have asked for donations to our son-rise room. Riley's dad, Andrew has given up work to be Riley's full time facilitator and with today's information we feel that all the hard work is now paying off.
Any parent who reads this and thinks that we must be "special" "clever" "rich" etc let me tell you we are NOT we are just two parents who love our son so much that we will find a way to do what is right for him. Had we had the letter today stating we were not successful we had already decided that we were going to do it on our own without the LEA, we weren't sure how, but we knew that was the plan. YOU can do the same as we have we are ordinary people we have ordinary lives but we have an extraordinary son who has shown us that anything is possible if you want it.
Riley is now five he has no speech yet, he is still in nappies, he loves his current playroom and will love his new bigger one. He has come so far already on his son rise journey making improvements every day in his interaction, eye contact, flexibility etc he now knows I'm his mom and who is dad is something I thought would never happen. Through son-rise I have got such a connection with my son that I forget he is not typical, I often feel we have had a conversation, shared a joke, played a game together, and most of all enjoyed being together. This is something I could not have imagined from the child who took no notice of others, and paced the room most of the day.
In summing up in court we said "Before Son-rise I had no relationship with my son but spending time with him in his room doing his programme we have a special relationship. I want my son to be able to go and have a game of football with his friends when he is older as parents we are not bothered if he knows his times tables. Son Rise is our key to Riley having the relationships he deserves and to him extending his life chances." One of the SEN advisors for the judge then said, "Parents seem to want to get Riley to a stage where he is able to access education through building a relationship with him first then sending him to school to learn the curriculum." At this point we knew someone had understood us and our hearts filled with hope.
Thank you to all of you who have inspired us on this message board
Gayle, Andrew and Riley